Essex County High School teacher Marcus-David Peters spent last Monday, May 14 in the classroom teaching biology to his teenage students. By day’s end, the 24-year-old would be dead, the victim of a fatal police-civilian confrontation along Interstate 94/65.
Details are still forthcoming, as the Richmond Police Department (RPD) continues its investigation of the incident. RPD said Peters, who lived in Henrico County, was shot by the officer responding to bizarre behavior exhibited by Peters, who was naked and also unarmed.
According to the police report, the officer fired his weapon when Peters charged at him after hitting three cars, leading police on a short pursuit, and dancing and rolling naked on the interstate.
Peters’ mother, Barbara Peters said the behavior exhibited by her son was unexplainable.
“That was not my son,” said Barbara Peters. “This is just so out of character. Something went terribly wrong.”
Peters had graduated with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 and was a favorite among his students.
According RPD, shortly after 5:30 p.m., an RPD officer saw Peters driving a sedan that struck another vehicle at the intersection of West Franklin and North Belvidere streets. He continued driving and the officer followed him north and onto the I-95/64 ramp at Chamberlayne Avenue.
Peters then lost control of his vehicle after striking two other vehicles on the ramp, police said. He emerged naked from the disabled vehicle and ran into the northbound lanes of I-95/64. Witnesses said they saw him dancing and rolling around on the interstate before running back to the on-ramp.
Police said Peters then charged the Richmond officer, who deployed his Taser in an effort to disable Peters. The Taser was ineffective, police said, so the officer fired his service weapon, striking Peters, who was unarmed.
Peters was transported to a hospital where he died shortly after midnight.
Peters was raised in Middlesex County, one of 12 children. He graduated summa cum laude from Middlesex High School in 2011.
His high school class selected him as a student speaker at graduation, which was covered by the local Southside Sentinel. In his commencement address, Peters appeared optimistic and said he was “excited for our future.”
Peters went on to attend VCU, graduating in 2016 with a biology degree and cum laude honors; he also minored in Spanish, psychology and chemistry. While at VCU, he attended the school’s Honors College, served as a resident assistant and volunteered in doctor’s offices, the family said.
Chief Alfred Durham identified the officer as Michael Nyantakyi, a Black male who is a 10-year veteran. He was wearing a body camera. The officer has been placed on administrative leave as the RPD’s Force Investigation Team conducts its investigation.